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UK annual house price growth hits two-year high in April – Halifax

British annual house price growth picked up more than expected last month to hit its highest in over two years, mortgage lender Halifax said on Wednesday, contrasting with other signs of a muted housing market.

House prices in the three months to April stood 5.0 percent higher than a year ago, the strongest growth since February 2017 and a marked increase from the 2.6 percent rise recorded for the three months to March.

The reading came in above all forecasts in a Reuters poll of economists that had pointed to an annual increase of 4.5 percent in the three months to April.

“The surge in house prices reported by Halifax cannot be reconciled with any other evidence from the housing market. Less volatile measures paint a far more subdued picture,” said Samuel Tombs, economist at Pantheon Economics.

Halifax said the year-on-year gains reflected unusually weak prices in April 2018, as well as more sales of more expensive newly built homes and a bigger proportion of sales coming from London, where house prices are above average.

Bank of England data last week showed British lenders approved the fewest mortgages in March since December 2017, and that consumer borrowing slowed sharply in the run-up to the original Brexit deadline of March 29.

While house prices have been rising across the country as a whole, prices in London have fallen according to various indicators, hit by unaffordable prices for many buyers, tax changes affecting the buy-to-let market and Brexit uncertainty which has weighed heavily on the capital.

Halifax said house prices in April alone rose 1.1 percent, again stronger than all forecasts in the Reuters poll that had pointed to an increase of just 0.1 percent. However, this represented only a partial recovery from March’s 1.3 percent drop.

Reporting by Andy Bruce; Editing by David Milliken

Source: UK Reuters

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UK annual house price growth picks up to nine-month high – Halifax

British house prices rose in the three months to August at their fastest annual rate since November last year, figures from major mortgage lender Halifax showed on Friday, bolstered by a gradual pick-up in wages and limited supply.

Halifax said house prices in the period were 3.7 percent higher than a year earlier, up from a 3.3 percent growth rate in the three months to July but a slightly smaller increase than the average forecast in a Reuters poll.

The figures contrast with data from rival mortgage lender Nationwide last week, which reported prices were up just 2 percent on the year in August, the joint-smallest increase in five years.

Britain’s housing market began slowing in the run-up to June 2016’s Brexit vote. The biggest slowdown has been in London, due to reduced appetite from foreign investors and concerns about the financial services industry, with less of an impact in other parts of the United Kingdom.

A “stable, yet constrained” supply of new homes was supporting prices, as was a gradual pick-up in wage growth, Halifax managing director Russell Galley said.

Looking at the month of August alone, house prices rose 0.1 percent from July, when they jumped by 1.2 percent.

Howard Archer, an economist at consultancy EY ITEM Club, said he did not see an upturn on the way for British house prices and expected annual house price growth of 2.5 percent this year and next.

“Consumer confidence is fragile and appreciable caution persists over engaging in major transactions. Potential house buyers may also be concerned that they are likely to face further interest rate hikes over the medium term following August’s hike,” he said.

The Bank of England raised interest rates to 0.75 percent in August in only its second increase since before the global financial crisis. BoE Governor Mark Carney said market expectations of one rate rise per year over the next few years would be a good rule of thumb for households.

Source: UK Reuters